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Complete the FAFSA form every year you're in college

The FAFSA form allows the federal government to calculate the amount of money you're able to borrow and are expected to pay for college.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. In order to be eligible for any federal financial aid, whether it’s one of several types of loans or a grant, you must fill out the form every year you're in college.

Once your FAFSA is processed, your college or university will review the resulting Student Aid Report (SAR) and inform you of your loan eligibility through a Financial Aid Award.

If you're eligible to obtain aid, you'll need to sign a promissory note, which is a binding legal document listing the conditions under which you are borrowing money and the terms under which you agree to repay your loan.

Private student loans can be used to fill the gap between the federal aid you receive and the total cost of your education. If you're planning to take out a private student loan, make sure you do your research and find one that offers the best rates and terms for your situation.

If you do not have a strong credit history or you don't have one at all, you might want to consider having a parent or guardian with a good credit history co-sign your student loan. This may help you get a lower interest rate. Remember to be conservative when applying for student loans and only borrow what you absolutely need to cover your educational expenses.

For more information about the FAFSA form and federal financial aid, visit www.fafsa.ed.gov.

Grant

A type of need-based financial aid that a student does not have to repay.

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